A Spanish-themed day seemed to be going well in the fans quarter as we all gathered to witness the post-window team take on many people's tip for the league title – Chelsea.
We all assembled in a packed L4 boozer and the conversation was of our chances against the cockneys. Many thought it may well be a game that a point would be a result; others pondered on the team to be selected and would any of our new men be risked and a genuine moan all around that Lukaku was ineligible. He seemed to be the one signing that excited most.
As the teams came through on mobile devices, the word ‘Naismith?!’ rang loud in derogatory fashion; many would eat humble pie later. Barry was the only new man involved in the starting line-up and, by the end of the game, it was his name that was on most lips. The look of strength on the bench was also noted considering Pienaar, Gibson and Alcaraz all unavailable due to injury.
Just over 36,000 of us assembled while the walk up to the ground seemed to suggest something like a 40,000 gate, such were the queues at venues such as the fat-van, Blue Dragon, the chippy and café on Goodison Road, plus a big queue to pick up tickets along a road just filled with bluenoses.
Lukaku was presented pre-kick-off and he duly waved his No 17 shirt and a big unit he looked. I can’t wait to see him start up front at Villa. Howard Webb was our ref.
As we kicked off, I was interested in seeing Eto’o in the flesh but he looked more than rusty since his Barca / Inter Milan days as early doors he headed a very presentable chance wide and a little later he ballooned one high into the Gwladys Street stand upper tier.
We started brightly with Barry and Osman looking composed in midfield and with us playing the customary ball out from the back we no more than threatened without much threat in the final third. Barkley started well up for it but seemed to fade out of it as the ball was played around him rather than to him, as we looked for avenues to attack whilst having to be very aware of the Chelsea threat, as they poured forward with confidence but the back four held their nerve and position whilst being protected primarily by the Osman-Barry axis.
Chelsea were the more dominant but never really looked like undoing us until Howard had one of his now familiar moments and tried – well I think he tried passing out from his six yard box but was soon under pressure as Chelsea had sussed this play out from the back ploy and had men pushing onto our rear-guard with pace and the upshot was he gave the ball to Schurrle who squared for Eto’o to hit the empty net – but for superb work from Barry, who read the situation and raced back and slid in on the forward with superb timing and deflected the ball for a corner, we would have been one down.
Barry was now well into the game and, although Jags is captain, it was the former City man who was dictating affairs both verbally and by example. It was just as well because Chelsea put us under sustained pressure for the last 15 mins of the first half. Jags and Distin came to the fore as they headed, hacked or booted attacks from the danger area, Osman and Barry provided a welcome shield and Naismith put in a lung-bursting stint to both get back to help out and be the recipient of the out-ball and his ability to leap and head well was appreciated by players and fans alike.
Eto’o put the midfield runner Ramirez in on goal but Howard saved well; then, in a crowded box the ball appeared from a mass of bodies and someone took a swipe at it only sending it high in the air and Howard withstood four Chelsea players jumping both with him and at him to successfully gather, fall on and allow composure to be regained.
This must have worked well as, with just about half of one minute added remaining and loads of fans heading to bars and bogs, Osman did really well to use the fast feet to get in a position to make a very good cross to the far post. It seemed just too far for Jelavic to reach and many thought it went wide but somehow Jela got something on his head to guide it back enough to elude the keeper and find the lurking Naismith with the luxury of a simple header home. The ground erupted with a noise that would stretch from L4 to L1, leaving those at bars and bogs to dash for screen replays. From thinking 0-0 to be a good half-time score, we now had the euphoria of the lead.
The chat at the break was of the transfer window and how the signings had given everyone a lift and also fans bemoaning the fact that Lukaku was ineligible today. I was most interested to look out for how the Martinez style would go about defending the lead in comparison to the man who has just left for the other end of the East Lancs Road. It was obvious Chelsea would come out at pace and they did not disappoint and we did have 15 mins of solid pressure to deal with.
Tippy-tappy went out of the window, to be replaced with gritty gutsy defending, yet always seeming to have someone forward to receive the out-ball and the willingness of players to hurry to support, which resulted in the ball not coming straight back as it had done previously. Chelsea did cause us some scares, none more so than the effort early doors that saw Ramirez do us for pace and play in Schurrle one-on-one and from a good angle he hit the net to a roar from the travelling fans only for it to die instantly as the net it hit was the side netting. How he missed, I don’t know... but all assembled celebrated his miss with gusto.
The half became more even as it went on and, in an open game, both teams threatened in turn; in our case, although the tippy-tappy had gone, there were some periods of excellent joined-up play as well as some well received hoofs as we defended our slender lead.
To this end, the manager started his subs: first it was McCarthy for Jelavic with Mirallas going up front. His speedy running would cause the Chelsea defence to think twice before bombing forward, but get forward they did and the nearest to an equaliser was in the last 10 mins or so when the speedy Ramirez came from deep and got on the end of a cross but thankfully he too hit the side netting.
Barkley was still full of running and putting himself about which was occupying the Chelsea defence as the clock ticked down. Mirallas was full of running upfront and left Luiz for dead only for the Brazilian to haul him back. "Off! Off!! Off!!!" yelled the faithful but it was only a yellow – maybe because, although he was the last man, the offence was just in our half. We seemed to be growing in confidence but had to be vigilant as just one mistake could spoil the day. Jags and Distin headed and hoofed as necessary. Osman and Barry got it down and played out and as good a team performance as I have seen for some time was taking place.
Minutes to go and Naismith was replaced by Deulofeu and the Scot received a standing ovation as he left the field. Moments later, Barkley was yet again felled and Baines took a free kick that beat the keeper but was fractionally high and clipped angle of bar and post.
Three minutes added, the whistles from the faithful reaching crescendo point, the manager sends on Stones for Mirallas after signalling for Mirallas to go to the far side and the walk off was slow. He is no mug, our man Roberto. Mourinho would have privately acknowledged the ploy. We cleared an attack and Mr Webb added his whistle to those of the faithful – and ‘If yer know yer istery’ was absolutely belted out.
MotM – Barry
A very enjoyable game that has gone a long way to settling down both players and fans. Okay, Chelsea did have most possession and indeed most shots on goal but you have to make them count and they didn’t – and we made one count from a much lesser position shot-wise – so maybe we deserved to win. I was very impressed with Barry, he looked class; although Jags is our skipper, Barry was talking and gesturing throughout. Two players who get more stick than others were instrumental in that win as Naismith not only scored but put in a lung-bursting shift and his work in the air was excellent; also Osman dovetailed well with Barry and had an excellent game.
Barkley showed what a superstar he may become with a show of power pace; it was just his vision for the right pass and a tendency to fade from the game from time to time that let him down. Of the subs, McCarthy had the longest run out and it was not long enough to make a judgement although I must say I thought he found this encounter a step up from anything he had played in before, such was the pace and intensity of the game, allied to some excellent technical abilities from both sides. Deulofeu and Stones were no more than break-up-play and run-down-the-clock subs.
I can't wait for next week at West Ham when Lukaku is unleashed – and I am not alone with that thought. I am sure he would have been impressed with the atmosphere created in Goodison today.
Just think: last week, many were dissatisfied with the tippy-tappy approach and fearful... yet, after today, only two teams remain unbeaten in the Prem — and both reside in L4. Funny old game.
See you at the Hammers.
UP THE BLUES
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978 Posted 15/09/2013 at 00:55:19
Well four games in, no defeats and another clean sheet, oh and the RS are no longer top, happy days.
985 Posted 15/09/2013 at 01:17:00
I wonder if that is allowed?
995 Posted 15/09/2013 at 02:17:48
001 Posted 15/09/2013 at 02:41:14
I know what you mean, when it was mooted, that we were considering a move for Barry, well before the transfer window ' last hour frenzy ' Some of the posts, were, well not exactly welcoming! I, was not one of those, you can check, but he even surprised me today, considering he had kept himself fit, but had not, had any match fitness / involvement for quite some time. He was a revelation, and no doubt prevented them scoring at least once!
Just hope, that it wasn't a ' one-off ' and can deliver more of the same.
003 Posted 15/09/2013 at 03:02:03
004 Posted 15/09/2013 at 02:34:10
Under OFM we were always for the most part 'fighters'. Martinez has a Rep. for 'boxing' today we were both boxer AND fighter Vs a very good Heavyweight, we didn't quite have the KO punch, but neither did they. So we will take the points win and they will go away glad it wasn't a title fight.
As to shots the score card said 21 for them, but as we have seen of ourselves it matters not if only 6 are on target and NONE go in. We had 5 on target and 1 that counted and that stat is the ONLY one that matters. ( you can see I'm getting into this boxing analogy thing )
Their 4 yellows show they were reduced to the football equivalent of hanging on, arm around the neck and low blows.
I thought everyone played well and that Barry and Naismith were in a photo for MotM. Naismith's Goal making up for his poor distribution of the final ball when it mattered.
McCarthy coming on seemed to coincide with Us getting out from under the Chelsea cosh, even though he was hardly mentioned or seen to catch the eye he must've been doing something right.
Baring Injuries I think the 11 that played after Jelavic went off deserved the right to start Vs WHU with Lukaku promoted from the stands to the bench.
If only Naismith could find a pass when it mattered.
005 Posted 15/09/2013 at 03:04:59
007 Posted 15/09/2013 at 03:06:57
016 Posted 15/09/2013 at 05:18:32
019 Posted 15/09/2013 at 06:41:07
God knows how much their squad has cost but if we had a tenth of the money they cost at our disposal, who knows where we could reach to. Anyway; we haven't and that's for another day.
Today, the team played a mix of the passing game and "getting shut" although there were some heart stopping moments when we gave the ball away. Tim? What the heck were you doing? did that beard get in your eyes? Mind you, he redeemed himself with some top class stops.
Ossie played better, though he too gave the ball away in dangerous places. Young Barkley had a day where it showed that he is still learning the trade, He did some brilliant runs but then too often made a poor choice when he could have split Chelsea wide open. I'm not being critical of him, it just shows he's a young lad still developing. His running and clever feet, though, is great to watch.
The old place was rocking to the rafters at times and I think some of our new signings must have thought "let me get on that pitch!!!"
Jellyfish did well in reaching the cross to put Naismith in and I just wish he could get himself a goal and it might settle him down.
All in all, a great result for us and I just can't wait to see what Lukaku does to the opposition when he comes on for us.
Well in lads!
020 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:13:36
021 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:22:26
025 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:39:08
030 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:55:15
BARRY! What a prospect for us. (Too old, blah, blah.). As somebody above said, Captain Without An Armband. Immense. Tackling, passing, surges forward (direct is what we wanted after first 3 games).
LOVE Barks. He took it on one jink too much at times. But the way he can glide past players, of Chelsea calibre! Have a shot a bit more, lad - so some miss, but some might not, and it's so exciting to watch.
Solid, solid defence in general. What a back four.
Mirallas back on form.
Nais in that game was very good. How many headers did he win!
Ossie started poorly (misplaced passes) and then got into it - with Barry just kept it ticking over at good tempo (also what we wanted after first 3 games).
Chelsea can be a very physical side, on the edge all the time. One of the great pluses for me yesterday was the way all (except Mirallas) accepted that physical challenge).
048 Posted 15/09/2013 at 08:32:37
He worked his balls off last night though, well done.
055 Posted 15/09/2013 at 09:31:29
Hansen was a disgrace on MOTD. Tyler was nearly as bad on Sky. I mean, how dare Everton beat Jose AND Chelsea all in one go. Its just not on.
060 Posted 15/09/2013 at 09:26:28
The first couple of games to get used to the Martinez way then having a real test against Chelsea and come away undefeated — this is taking me back to the early mid 80s. We even have quality on the bench.
The teams tipped to be above us have all strengthened and the London clubs look very good, yet on this performance i'm happy that we can compete.
064 Posted 15/09/2013 at 09:51:01
The back 4 are one of the best units in the division, three clean sheets in a row.
Martinez may be a bit more pragmatic than some give him credit for!
075 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:02:52
Barry was superb, great passing, good vision, looked liked he'd been there for years. Naismith put a great shift in too.
Another 3 points next week please boys!
081 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:25:49
I genuinely felt sorry for Jelavic who tried manfully all the time he was on and his contribution to Naismith's goal was terrific, but he cannot play as a lone frontman and obviously needs a partner if he is to be played. I reckon if he is played in home games alongside Kone or Lukaku he will start scoring regularly.
Let's face it, Lineker always had a target man (eg, Sharp) to assist him in his goal scoring. Keegan had Toshack and Owen always had supporting target men. He is not physically built for playing alone and the ball comes straight back as he is not a hold up man. I reckon that is why his confidence is suffering.
Anyway Barry was deservedly MotM and I must admit I had reservations about signing him due to his lack of pace but I was wrong. I reckon we beat the best team we will encounter this season at Goodison so it was all the more enjoyable to witness it.
090 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:38:01
091 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:18:10
The lads played as a team yesterday and grew after some early scares but the main thing is that they all got stuck in and what a confidence booster to beat most pundits idea of Favourites.!!!!!!
129 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:02:02
144 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:41:44
I agree he shouldn't be in the team if Barkley is fit. But Barkley will have his off days, & he will be injured now & again, or need a rest. That's where we should be looking to give Naismith a chance. His distribution isn't good enough to play on the wing, as much has he runs his socks off. And he is a goal threat when he arrives late into the box.
183 Posted 15/09/2013 at 14:43:56
The signings already look promising – Barry takes the MotM plaudits for me with his defensive nous, tidy play and match-saving tackle. As everyone says, he does the simple, unseen things of tying things together in midfield and this type of player is essential for Martinez's approach. What Barry does is allow the team to control the centre of the pitch – both in reacting to the opponents' movement and the tempo of passing. To be honest, yesterday it was more of the former and we rode our luck a bit. McCarthy looks like he can help that control even more and also produce more forward bursts.
The other thing we saw is Martinez's tactical awareness with his substitutions and this is in sharp contrast to Moyes's brand of negativity. When Chelsea brought on Oscar in the second half, they switched their focus of attack from the wings (as Schurrle and Mata were running out of ideas and space) to the space in front of Jags/Distin. In tandem with Hazard, and with Ramirez and Lampard providing extra bodies, this was causing us some problems. That was when Martinez brought on McCarthy to shore up the middle, but also switched Mirallas to the middle to give us a more mobile outlet. He was ably supported by Barkley and Naismith (who was a blur of perpetual motion).
So, Martinez showed everyone he is willing to be pragmatic and I think this also explains how we mixed it up more in possession, looking to play quicker counter-attacking football. I hope this is something he continues to develop especially when we are up against weaker teams than Chelsea and, especially at home. The slow build up which aids our possession and retention also makes us more predictable and allows opposing teams to 'set' themselves when we have the ball.
The signs are that Martinez wants that with us signing Lukaku on loan. The big lad thrives on counter-attacking and crosses, too. Look at his goals for West Brom last season- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTpgAc20YPI
A trio of Lukaku, Mirallas and Barkley with one of Pienaar/Deulofeu or the Naismith of yesterday would be quite terrifying for opposition teams, but it will need quick transitions to do that. So we will need to see how all the new signings gel.
But it is encouraging and I think Martinez, given time, will get us playing stuff which is both pleasing to the eye and brutal.
190 Posted 15/09/2013 at 15:02:52
215 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:01:03
233 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:32:33
As for Chelsea recalling their striker, Jose has too big an ego for that to happen even if it made sense for Chelsea.
Most Chelsea fans I know can't believe Jose let him go on loan again anyway
428 Posted 15/09/2013 at 23:13:22
His pace is frightening and the harassing of the the Chelsea back 4 was impressive. Put Chelsea more on the back foot when he was the centre forward. Maybe next year he gets his chance to be the lone striker as we have Lukaku this year.
445 Posted 16/09/2013 at 01:11:16
845 Posted 17/09/2013 at 10:44:21
847 Posted 17/09/2013 at 10:52:15
851 Posted 17/09/2013 at 11:13:16
853 Posted 17/09/2013 at 11:37:13
855 Posted 17/09/2013 at 11:42:12
858 Posted 17/09/2013 at 11:31:02
"both pleasing to the eye and brutal"
Yes please !
HK's 80's kings were both
If Roberto intends taking us down that line then I will be extremely happy indeed
Crucify them with style, or just crucify them
TimCahill, Graham Stuart, Kevin Richardson, Alan Harper
No shame, an illustrious club of "Engineers" to balance out the "wizardry and alchemy" of the Trevor Steven, Kevin Sheedy, Kevin Mirallas
"The School of Science" incorporates both engineering and wizardry
860 Posted 17/09/2013 at 11:49:50
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